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Should council, school board conduct a primary election?

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The good news is there are a lot of candidates for Brainerd School Board and Brainerd City Council in 2012. And (you guessed it) the bad news is there are a lot of candidates for Brainerd School Board and Brainerd City Council.

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Should the council and school board conduct primaries?

Without primaries there’s always the risk that the vote will split so that winning candidates will not earn more than 50 percent of the vote. That’s not the end of the world, of course. Former Minnesota Governors Tim Pawlenty and Jesse Ventura served without ever having received more than 50 percent of the vote. President George W. Bush received less than 50 percent of the popular vote in the 2000 election. Once the votes are tallied the margin of victory becomes insignificant.

Some contend a large field of candidates favors the incumbents, with those eager for a change splitting their votes among the challengers.

In the case of the Brainerd School Board and Brainerd City Council, the number of candidates in the 2012 election could overwhelm voters but it’s important to remember that there are multiple positions to be filled by both units of government. The school board has 10 candidates for three positions. The grand total for the city council is 18 candidates for four positions. The city council races break down to six candidates for Ward 1, five candidates for Ward 3 and seven candidates for two at-large posts.

The Brainerd City Charter currently prohibits primaries but a question on the November ballot will let residents decide whether a primary election should be conducted when more than two candidates file for one office.

The Brainerd School Board has discussed the possibility of conducting a primary. Among the factors which were discussed were that it had recently switched school elections to even years to save money and it had recently conducted a referendum which cost a significant amount of money.

We’d like to hear from our readers on this issue. Would you prefer a primary for those governmental bodies or is the status quo acceptable?

Mike O’Rourke

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889
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